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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, '11, 8:32 pm
“Andi, wake up!”

“Mmm.” The sleepy woman gradually became aware of someone gently shaking her shoulder. As soon as she realized it was Gabe and that it was the middle of the night, her eyes flew open. “What's wrong?” she asked, trying not to panic.

“Nothing's wrong,” he whispered. “Get up and get dressed.” Andi raised an eyebrow at him quizzically. “Come on, it's my turn to plan a little bit of fun for us. It's been a long time coming.”

As she became more awake, she saw that he was already dressed and was holding a small bag. Too tired and confused to protest, she threw on some clothes as quickly as she could and followed him out the door.

It didn't take long for her to figure out where they were going. Knowing how weak he was and how he had a tendency to tire easily, she frequently asked if he wanted to stop and rest for a few minutes, but he refused. There was no racing through the trees this time, due to his illness and her being largely pregnant, but since Gabe had had the foresight to plan for their slower journey, they made it to the cliffs on time.

Neither would admit their exhaustion out loud, but they carefully lowered themselves to the soft grass. They lay on their sides, one behind the other, and waited in silence. As the first rays of Algol started their ascent into the sky, he slid his arm around her body and laced his fingers through hers. Resting his chin atop her head, he held her as close to him as possible.

Andi closed her eyes and waited to feel the familiar benevolent warmth upon her, a sensation she had not felt in what seemed like ages. With the sounds of the waves colliding with the rocks below and Gabe's gentle breath in her ear, she desperately wanted to believe that they could stay that way forever, that he would always be with her for sunrise after sunrise. Deep down, though, she knew the truth, regardless of how much the light upon her face tried to convince her otherwise.

When the sun had finally finished its climb out from behind the ocean, Gabe rolled onto his back and shielded his eyes from the brightness. It took Andi a considerable amount of effort, but she finally managed to turn herself around to face him. His skin was yellowed now, and only a few stray tufts of purple hair poked up from his scalp, but even with his altered appearance, he was still the most magnificent sight on the planet to her.

They lay quietly for an indeterminate amount of time, neither one wanting to shatter their last illusion of perfection. Andi was the first to break the silence. “I don't think Mother Brain can fix this,” she said softly.

“I know.”

“I wanted to believe you, believe in her.”

“Me too.”

Andi felt a stinging dampness in her eyes. “I don't know what I'm going to do without you.” The words nearly got caught in her throat.

He turned his head to look at her and brushed some stray strands of hair away from her face. “You will always be my strong, beautiful, wonderful Andi.” His hand traced a line down the front of her body until he could feel the reassuring kicks of his child beneath her skin. “And you're going to do an amazing job raising my strong, beautiful, wonderful son.”

She couldn't help but smile through her tears. “You're still so sure it's a boy?”

“Please, let me be right just once in my life.”

“I'll see what I can do.” The mischievous spark hadn't been extinguished completely. “As long as he paints, it's fine with me.”

“I still vote for 'biologist'.”

“Maybe I'll just let him choose.”

The thoughts of the future, rendered incomplete by the absence of Gabe, lingered above them along with the orange-gold sphere that was now directly above them. Always uncomfortable with prolonged silence, Andi was the first to speak again. “There is a telepipe in that bag, right?”

“Of course. I can't be completely spontaneous on my own, I still had to plan this out.”

“Good. Because I seriously doubt either one of us could get up right now.” She tried to laugh and was moderately successful, but it was still tinged with sadness.

“I'm afraid you're right. Are you ready to go home?” She nodded and he reached behind him for his bag. He set the coordinates on the telepipe and she clung to him as they vanished away into the sunshine.

Andi tried her best in the following days to continue to be the bubbly, passionate woman Gabe adored. It wasn't a denial of their situation but more of an attempt to satisfy him and his desire to see her as he always had. They played games, told jokes, and speculated about their impending child.

One morning, he was simply gone. Andi awoke and noticed he didn't stir when she dragged herself up to a sitting position. Before she could even check if he was breathing, she felt the cold stillness of his skin. There had been no fanfare, no chaos; his exit had been much like him, straightforward and unassuming. Feeling as if a dark, empty hole had grown in her overnight, Andi rested her head in her hands and let the waves of grief wash over her.
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